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UC Davis chancellor faces no-confidence vote by faculty

February 17, 2012 |  3:57 pm

[Updated at 6:45 p.m.: UC Davis faculty voted overwhelmingly to support the continued leadership of Katehi, who has faced criticism about the Nov. 18 pepper spraying of peaceful student demonstrators by campus police, officials announced Friday evening. In an online referendum, professors voted 697 to 312 to defeat a no-confidence measure that was very critical of Katehi’s handling of the controversial police action. A rival measure that supported Katehi while also condemning the pepper spraying passed by a more narrow margin, 586 to 408, according to an announcement by the campus Academic Senate.]

Final votes were being cast Friday in a faculty referendum on the leadership of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi, who has faced criticism about the Nov. 18 pepper spraying of peaceful student demonstrators by campus police.

UC Davis faculty over the last two weeks have been voting on several non-binding rival resolutions that offer support for Katehi and her handling of the controversial police action or express a lack of confidence in her. Results are expected to be announced Friday evening.

The anti-Katehi motion states that the chancellor ordered police to take action against the demonstrators and contends that she failed “to act effectively to resolve the resulting crisis.” Katehi, however, has said that she authorized police to remove protesters’ tents but not to use the pepper spray in the manner they did.

A pro-Katehi resolution condemns the police tactic but praised the chancellor for improving the campus’ academic stature since she became chancellor in August 2009. It notes that she apologized for the pepper spraying and moved to prevent any similar actions in the future. “It is time to promote a constructive healing process rather than risk more harm by pressuring the chancellor to resign,” it says.

Meanwhile, UC officials announced this week that an investigation into the pepper-spraying incident was taking longer than expected and that a resulting report would be finished early next month rather than on Feb. 21 as originally scheduled. Retired state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, a former UC Davis law professor who is chairman of the investigation task force, said there is so much information to review.

“We are mindful of and share the intense desire of faculty, staff and students to have trust and confidence restored. Therefore, while we are trying to be swift in releasing the report, we have an obligation to the campus community not to be hurried,” Reynoso said in a statement. Former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton is working on that probe for the task force.

-- Larry Gordon